Jessup residents debate developer's quarry plan Requiring Gould to keep promises may yield legal problems, official says

April 17, 1996|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Dealing a blow to Jessup residents who support a proposed quarry near their homes, the chairman of the Howard County Board of Appeals said last night the panel might not require the project's developer to keep promises he made to get residents' support.

George Layman, the chairman, said that the board might run into legal difficulties if it requires developer Kingdon Gould to build a "club house" and keep other promises he made to residents.

"I do have a problem with promises made being part of the special exception," Mr. Layman said. "I don't know what the other board members feel."

Mr. Layman's remarks came during the first night of residents' testimony on Mr. Gould's proposal to quarry a crystalline rock called Baltimore gabbro, which is often used for road construction because of its hardness and uniform texture, on his "Chase Property."

The quarry would be on a 546-acre wooded site east of Interstate 95, west of U.S. 1 and south of Route 175.

The proposed quarry might process and stockpile sand, gravel, clay and fill dirt, and could later house an asphalt plant.

Mr. Gould has promised residents a 5,000-square-foot community center and, when quarrying is completed, parkland with a lake.

He also pledged to give the community association 5 cents for every ton of Baltimore gabbro and any other mineral he mines at the site, which should net the group a minimum of $50,000 a year.

Mr. Gould still could keep those promises, even if the board does not require him to do so.

But some residents oppose the project, fearing the quarry will bring traffic problems and that tremors from blasting and the dust from blasts will endanger the community and lower property values.

They have formed the Stop the Quarry Coalition to block the project.

Last night, witnesses included the president of the community association that is backing Mr. Gould's proposal and others who believe the project could provide tax revenue and jobs and benefit wildlife and parkland.

"A quarry lake is a real amenity," testified Clarksville resident Aelred D. Geis, director of research for the Wild Bird Centers of America Inc. "We don't have any natural lakes in the county. They're all artificial."

Another supporter, Gary Prestianni, president of the 150-member Ridgelys Run Community Association, said that the quarry isn't going to bring many more problems than the community already has.

"The traffic is going to get worse no matter what," Mr. Prestianni said. "It's just getting more difficult" to commute in the area.

He added that he tried to gauge community support for the project before the hearings began and found minimal interest.

He said he went door-to-door to 610 Jessup-area homes, trying to inform residents about the project.

Mr. Prestianni said many of the 1,800 residents he tried to reach didn't attend meetings to voice opposition or support.

"The farther people [live] away from it, the less likely they would have gotten involved," Mr. Prestianni said.

Pub Date: 4/17/96

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